Uncovered on September 16, a perfectly preserved skeleton was found in a sarcophagus beneath a small church at St. Alban’s Priory in Denmark. Video captured the moments when the archaeologists working at Odense lifted a huge stone slab from the upper part of the skeleton. The video clearly shows the leg bones connected to the hip bones. The tomb is at least 1,000 years old and was found while work was underway to build a light-rail project that would go straight through the area.
Archaeologists reveal a femur, tibia and fibia of the mysterious skeleton
Since the area was known to be of historical importance, experts and archaeologists had been combing it for clues to the past. The coffin was found on the site of a small timber church where King Canute IV of Denmark was assassinated by rebels in 1086. He was later recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
The skeleton likely belonged to a man who was between 30 to 35 years of age at the time of death. Besides his height, 187 centimeters – 6 feet 2 inches, little else is known about the ancient Dane, other than he was probably a bishop. Currently, the remains are at the University of Southern Denmark for further investigation.
Experts carefully remove the heavy stone lid over the skeleton
It is believed to be the oldest set of remains found of a cleric in northern Europe. Over the centuries, dirt invaded the coffin. The man in the coffin was buried with a miniature set of implements for the celebration of the Mass: a platen or diskos and a chalice that were found near his hip. This has been cited as evidence that he was a high-ranking priest. The remains were found near the altar: a practice that was typical for the time. X-rays of the paten revealed an inscription: “the Lord’s right (hand) has created strength. Amen,.” It is likely that it refers to Psalms 118: “The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.” This proves that it was a sacred vessel used for the Mass.
A metal disk or paten found with the skeleton, approximately 5 centimeters or 2 inches wide
Some experts theorize that the remains may belong to Bishop Eibert, who led the church at Odense from 1048 to 1072 A.D. Eibert was originally from Bremen, in what is now modern Germany, which is 260 miles away. If so, this would mean that the remains are indeed the earliest yet found for a cleric in northern Europe. However, since a pectoral cross and a crozier - a ceremonial shepherd's staff - were not found with the remains, the identify of the deceased as a bishop is still debateable. Normally, these objects would accompany the bishop into the next world.
A miniature chalice, approximately 5 centimeters or 2 inches wide
The skeletal remains and artifacts have been moved to the University of Southern Denmark for study.
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